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John T.
Republican SD

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  • Nomination of Melvin L. Watt to Be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency—Continued

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2013-12-10

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    THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, once again I come to the floor to discuss the negative impacts ObamaCare is having on my constituents in South Dakota and to countless Americans across the Nation. Since this health care law was enacted in 2010, I have come to the floor on numerous occasions to discuss the number of promises the President made to the American people, promises that have been broken. My colleagues and I have highlighted the fact that the President's promise, ``if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan--period,'' simply isn't true.

    Reports indicate that more than 5 million Americans already have received cancellation notices from their insurance companies and much of the ObamaCare policy has not even been implemented yet. What is worse, the administration knew they would never live up to this promise. Instead of finding a permanent solution to the problem, they proposed a political solution.

    Today I would like to highlight yet another broken promise made by the President that is resulting in sticker shock as many Americans purchase health insurance.

    While campaigning for the Presidency, and in speeches leading up to the passage of ObamaCare, President Obama promised the American people that their premiums would decrease by up to $2,500 per family. Instead, many families are facing sticker shock. Since enactment of ObamaCare, health care premiums have actually increased by more than $2,500 per family--that according to the Kaiser Family Foundation annual survey. As a result, many American families are sitting around their kitchen table trying to figure out how they are going to shift their finances around to afford health care when they were promised their premiums were going to go down by $2,500 per family.

    As the President has said, this law is more than just a Web site. We agree with that; this law is more than just a Web site. This law is a series of broken promises that are resulting in higher premiums, higher deductibles, and higher out-of-pocket costs for middle-class families, money the families could be using to help pay off student loans, save for a house, or start a business. Those are now going to be used to pay for government-approved health care.

    Recent reports out this week by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal highlight the fact that deductibles and other costs under ObamaCare have surged. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average individual deductible for a bronze level plan on the exchanges is over $5,000 a year. This means a policyholder would need to pay over $5,000 in order for their insurer to start making payments.

    One of my constituents recently informed me that her family's health insurance plan was cancelled and the new policy she was offered would double their deductible to $5,000 per individual. She and her husband have three children. In addition to a higher deductible, this family faces higher premiums, higher copayments, and a higher out-of-pocket maximum. She goes on to say, ``Please explain how this new coverage is considered `affordable' under the Affordable Care Act?'' Another couple in my State of South Dakota informed me, in the form of an email, that their premiums were going up by $400 a month and the deductibles were going up by $1,400 on their policy.

    [[Page S8592]] Their question was, What is the Federal Government doing? The gentleman says I feel like the Federal Government just stole $5000 from me.

    That is the frustration people across the country are feeling as a result of ObamaCare. The middle class is faced with higher costs, while their take-home pay and hours are being reduced.

    As more and more Americans begin to formulate their family budget for 2014, they are going to learn that yet another promise by the President has been broken. Not only are they losing the plan they were promised they could keep, they are facing sticker shock over the increased cost of health care coverage. This flawed law will continue hitting middle- class Americans in their pocketbooks as the Nation's economy continues to struggle to regain its footing.

    The flawed rollout of ObamaCare is no secret. We have all seen what were described as the countless glitches associated with the rollout. But to make matters worse, recent reports indicate that in October, one in four ObamaCare enrollees faced a glitch not many were aware of. This glitch, called an 834 error, has prevented insurers from receiving the proper information regarding people who believed they had successfully enrolled in a health care plan. In essence, 25 percent of the initial enrollees in ObamaCare, after persevering through the errors on a Web site that was not ready for prime time, may not have proper coverage come January 1 of 2014.

    What is even more troubling is that the administration estimates that 10 percent of new enrollees will continue to face this problem. Here we are, 23 days before January 1, and those who worked through the headaches of healthcare.gov may or may not have coverage. Unfortunately, this administration continues to refuse to seriously address these problems.

    Even though they have unilaterally delayed several portions of this law from taking effect and have previously failed to meet half of the requirements mandated by the law, the administration will not provide the same relief for the individual Americans as it has for big businesses.

    This law is fundamentally broken and we need to start over. Rather than expand the government's role in providing health care, we need to enact policies that make the private insurance market more competitive to ensure that individuals and families have choices when it comes to their health care. Yet the unfortunate reality for middle-class families is that their premiums, their deductibles, their out-of-pocket costs under ObamaCare are not glitches, they are a harmful reality that is resulting in sticker shock for literally millions of Americans.

    We can do better; we should do better. This is more than just a Web site. It is the substance of this law that was built upon a faulty foundation that is leading to canceled policies, higher premiums, higher deductibles, higher taxes, fewer jobs, and lower take-home pay for the American people. This is a direct shot at the heart of the American middle class.

    The President last week got up and made a speech where he talked about income inequality. What he should have focused on is the best way to get rid of income inequality is to repeal this health care law because what is going to happen to middle-class families and middle- class Americans under this health care law is much higher costs, much lower take-home pay, many fewer jobs for them and for their children, and a lower standard of living and lower quality of life than they have enjoyed in the past. This will be the impact upon middle-class Americans as a result of this law.

    I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

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